One of the most powerful tools that you can use to lead difficult conservation and keep it on track is Reframing. This means taking the heart of what the person says and interpreting it into a framework that is more helpful.
The way an issue or problem is phrased can influence your attitudes and your colleagues. The meaning we attach to a situation will influence how we perceive it and how others will react to it. A simple example is the difference between the words “problem” and “challenge”.
So instead of using words that automatically come out when we are facing a difficult situation, learn to reframe your words to have a collaborative conversation and achieve a more positive outcome.
Words you can use to have a more positive approach in dealing with a difficult conversation:
TRUTH/LIES = DIFFERENT STORIES
Your perspective of the issue or situation may be different from that of the other person’s. There are always two sides to every story.
ACCUSATIONS = INTENTIONS AND IMPACT
Be clear of your and the other person’s intentions instead of making assumptions that can make the situation even worse.
BLAME = CONTRIBUTIONS
Instead of focusing on the other person’s fault, reflect on your contribution to the issue no matter how big or small and start from that understanding that the involved parties have contributed to the conflict.
JUDGMENTS CHARACTERIZATION = CURIOSITY
Be careful not to associate the situation with the person’s character. Be reflective of your questions and ALWAYS ask instead of just judging the person by their actions. As the famous proverb says, “Do not judge a book by its cover”.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU = WHAT’S GOING ON FOR THEM
Instead of just looking at the actions, try to understand what’s happening internally that could have triggered the other person’s unpleasant behaviour or performance. How were they feeling before the issue happened mentally and emotionally? Do not assume and remember that asking leads to understanding.
Here’s one example on how to reframe your words when having a difficult conversation:
They say: This is all your fault!
You reframe: I’m sure I’ve contributed to the problem; I think we both have. Rather than focus whose fault it is, let’s look at how we got here. Let’s look at how each of us has contributed to the situation.
When having a difficult conversation, the first solution often starts from you. How you perceive the other person’s actions and behaviour can greatly affect the outcome of the conversation. Always remember to reframe because in solving an issue or a conflict, it’s not about reacting; it’s about choosing how you respond.